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Thread: Free PHP CMS

  1. #1

    Question Free PHP CMS

    I have a small business website sat on a server (here's the specs - Linux Beginner).

    The site is built using a bit of CSS and the rest is static HTML, and I want to upgrade it to use a CMS, as this will allow me to change the current structure and maintain it easily like add news items or articles.

    I'm not prepared to pay anything, so can you recommend some good free CMS software I can use?

    And a few questions:
    1. if I use an open source CMS, am I going to need to update it regularly to ensure it's secure?
    2. since it's php, is the install process just a case of copying the lib files up to the server? I only have FTP access, I don't control the server itself


    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    That's easy. Joomla.

    Joomla is the most widely used CMS in the world, and completely free and open source. It is better supported, more secure and more regularly updated than any other CMS, commercial or free. I've been using Joomla for over 5 years now and continue to use it to build new sites. Classicamiga.com is build using Joomla too.

    Looking at your hosting package you have everything needed to run it. Your webspace supports PHP5 and gives you 1 MySQL database so you have everything needed. Plus you don't need to be in control of the actual server to install and run it.

    Installing Joomla is fairly straight forward.

    The official guides are very good and run through the whole process well with screenshots. http://help.joomla.org/ghop/feb2008/...quickstart.pdf

    However, here is a quick run through.

    1, Download the latest version of Joomla 1.5 (Full Package) from http://www.joomla.org/download.html

    2, Unzip the downloaded Zip into a directory on your PC.

    3, Connect to your webspace via FTP.

    4, Upload all of the files you extracted to your webspace. This might take some time as there are a lot of files.

    If you have a domain url pointing to the root of your FTP and want the CMS to load from here then upload everything into the root of your FTP account. Otherwise you could create a directory on your server and upload everything into that, and then the url would be http://www.myurl.com/directoryname/ Depends what you want the address to be.

    5, Once everything is uploaded you need to setup the MySQL database. Your hosting company should give you a control panel for your hosting account when you log into their site, and from here you should be able to setup your database. Once setup you should be provided with the following information which you need to write down ready to install Joomla.

    Hostname - location of the database (either this will be "localhost" or a Web URL)
    User Name - The username used to connect to the database.
    Password - again used to connect to the database
    Database Name - Every database on a MySQL server has a unique name to connect to it.

    6, Finally to install Joomla go to the web address of where you uploaded the Joomla files.

    The Joomla installation will automatically start and run through the steps to setup and install Joomla. It will start by asking you which language to use, then it will perform checks on your web hosting account to make sure it will work, then make you agree to the license. Next it will ask you to enter the database settings you wrote down. The installer will test these so you will know if you got anything wrong.

    For Step 5, FTP Configuration, you don't need this so skip it when given the option.

    At the configuration step it will ask you to enter a site name, and the email address, username and password for the admin account. Make sure you write these down or you won't be able to access the site.

    It can be useful to install the Sample data if you have never used Joomla before as it gives you a set of pages setup to experiment with and see how they work, but equally this will leave a lot of unneeded pages and menus within the site that you will need to delete after playing around with them.

    And that is it. Once complete the installer will ask you to delete the installation directory on the server. The site won't work as a security measure until you have done this.

    You can then visit the site. If you installed the Sample data you will see the site load with this all in place, otherwise you will have a blank site with just the template loaded. You can now log into the admin panel to start configuring and building the site with the CMS. Just go to http://yoururl/administrator to log in.

    Follow the quick start pdf I linked to for a full guide and it also leads you through the basics of the admin panel and how to begin setting your site up.

    And if you need any help or have any questions please let me know. I've been using Joomla for a long time, since it launched, so can answer most things.

    As for you question about updating. The Joomla team or constantly working on Joomla and regularly do release updates. With Joomla is is very straight forward. Normally they release update packages which just contain the file changes since the very you current have installed. You just download, extract and upload (overwriting old files on your site), then it is updated. Obviously if you edit any of the main Joomla files you will need to do this again for any in an update, and always remember to fully backup the existing site before updating. But normally it is very straight forward, and they always profile full instructions on how to update.

    And don't worry about software being free and open source. The majority of the internet is running on completely free and open source software (Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL.. etc), all better supported, more secure and regularly updated than any commercial internet software I've ever seen.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  3. #3
    Okay, that sounds do-able. Thanks for all the info!

    I have an existing website in that space - when I type in the bare URL it opens up index.htm at the moment; how will it know to use the CMS now? A .htaccess file?

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    Servers are always setup to look for an index page when a url is loaded without an actual webpage specified. In the server's setup the server will be configured to look for index pages in a set order. Normally this will be looking for index.php, index.htm.. etc

    If you are replacing the existing site with the CMS, Joomla uses an index.php file to open the site when going to the URL, so removing the existing site's files, and uploading the Joomla files is all that is needed. No configuration needed for that to work.

    However, if you wish to keep your existing website on the server and also have Joomla you cannot have them in the same directory as that won't work. You will instead need to put them into sub directories within the webspace. Also most hosts allow you to point domains at any location within your webspace. So if for example you had 2 domains and were hosting 2 sites on the same webspace you could have domain1.com pointing to webspaceroot/website1/ and domain2.com pointing to webspaceroot/website2/. To the outside world each loads as a completely separate site, but in reality they are hosted on the same server, just in different directories.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  5. #5
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    My favorite is CMSMS, because if you are experienced in PHP and HTML, you can develop something that is really really easy to update, and give user rights to others to update.
    Previously known as Nerdpower50.

  6. #6
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    I've never personally tried CMSMS. Do they have a demo site running? Their site doesn't really go into great detail on how it works or what it offers.

    Personally if I wanted to build a CMS that was really hands on and involved some php coding then I would opt for Drupal, but that does have a steep and confusing learning curve.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


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